The legal ethics standards do not require that a lawyer be fully knowledgeable and competent to handle a particular representation when he or she accepts the assignment, but does require that the lawyer be sufficiently up-to-speed in the legal area at issue when the work commences. That standard is reasonable for the law, but the American public should expect more when an individual has the audacity to pronounce himself fit to be President of the United States. One area I would hope a candidate wouldn’t need to bone up on after the fact: the nation’s founding documents.
Former pizza CEO and conservative radio host Herman Cain officially entered the contest for the GOP nomination over the weekend with this statement, following his exhortation to America’s public to read the Constitution:
“Keep reading! Don’t stop at life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”
Meet me at the bridge; I’ll be jumping at noon.
Yes, yes…anyone can make a mistake, it’s a slip of the tongue, Obama’s 57 states. I know the drill; I heard it all after Rep. Michele Bachmann, having scolded the political class for not respecting the Founders’ vision of America and our national heritage, told an audience in Concord, New Hampshire that the American Revolution began there, rather than in Massachusetts. And I will say the same thing about Cain as I did about Bachmann: there are some mistakes a professional cannot make and still claim to be a competent professional. An accountant can’t announce that 2 plus 2 equals 6. A doctor cannot proclaim that the knee bone’s connected to the neck bone. And a presidential candidate cannot mix up the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, especially while telling everyone else that they are insufficiently familiar with one of them.
Herman needs to read the Constitution, and not stop at..
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
I think it’s too late, though. People who want to be the next president have an obligation to have the basics mastered before they announce their candidacies. We’ve seen the damage that eager amateurs can do.
15 thoughts on “Herman Cain Flunks The Presidential Candidate Competency Test”
Why do you assume that he said the constitution? that isn’t in quotes, its a paraphrase of what he said.
reporters can be remarkable idiots on the subject, too.
Fair point. If it’s a misquote, I’ll recant. After Michael Steele, at the GOP National Committee chairman debate, said that the first lines of “War and Peace” were “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,” I admit to having a hair-trigger on this sort of thing.
I believe those were the first words of Moby Dick.
Try Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Moby Dick starts “Call me Ishmael.” [Or in the Mad Magazine version, “Call me Fishmeal.”
Uh, yes, JOHN, I know, and tgt knows. See, that was the point of my story about Steele…that he claimed that “War and Peace’ was his favorite book, and then attributed the famous first lines of “Tale” to it. I presumed my educated readers would not have to have the source of the lines identified, a courtesy that apparently you could not extend to me or tgt, who was obviously making a joke…because every educated reader also knows the first line of “Moby Dick.”
John is confused. “Call me Ishmael” is the first line of Slaughterhouse-Five.
Don’t you mean Phillip Roth’s “the Great American Novel”? Wait…that was “Call me Smitty”….
I’d like to have heard the full context. I’m looking for event video/text now. Cain needs a better website. Did he take a breath? Was it the same paragraph? I don’t accept newspaper journalists as infallibly accurate Secondary sources.
Even so, as presented in the cited article, I took his words a bit differently. I encourage people to read the Constitution, not just the Declaration of Independence. While the DoI really helped define us as Americans, we have to step beyond it. The Constitution is what we do “as Americans.”
Every American knows 1776. How many know 1787? How many even know what the Articles of Confederation were?
You are right, that a candidate does need to be pretty explicit about source materials. I’d posit that they need to be explicit about line breaks and transitional thoughts. Cain may also need a better speech writer who would have written “Continue to read. Read the Constitution. Don’t stop your Civic education at the Declaration of Independence.”
P.S. – Hey Jack? If the Cain campaign contacts you for my email address, to hire me as a speech-editor, I authorize you to release it (just CC me on the response).
I honestly hope you’re right, but I think it is wishful thinking to assume Cain was referencing the Declaration intentionally ant just neglecting to mention it by name. Giving lip service to the Founding documents without really knowing them is a disgracefully common malady among politicians, and we are better served by calling them on it than by giving them the benefit of the doubt.
I think PolitiFact sums things up pretty well.
Oh Aaron! MikeC! Did you see this? Yoo-hoo!!!
Check out Sublime Bloviations-Wed.25,2011. Looking forward to your recanting.
I checked. Really, Jean? You find that to be a convincing defense? Confirmation bias epitomized, if you want my assessment. That piece is embarrassingly weak, just naked spin and excuse-making. Wow.
As the author of that “embarrassingly weak” and excuse-making evaluation, I’d like to ask for your evidence of its supposed weakness. It’s plain that Herman Cain has, in the recent past, drawn appropriate distinctions between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence specific to the point in question. Is he supposed to have forgotten all about what he’s said about it in the past?. I’d think a better case can be made that those who accuse Cain of confusing the two serves as the superior example of confirmation bias.
Nothing personal, but of course it is pathetic. And Cain has now shown, many times, how shallow his grasp is of many, many other things he either kind of knows or should know. “Keep reading! Don’t stop at life, liberty and pursuit of happiness,” in relation to the Constitution, is signature significance. I wouldn’t, even for a second, say that Gilbert wrote the music and Sullivan wrote the words; I wouldn’t, on the stupidest day of my life, get the Roosevelts mixed up, or get Ted Wiliams confused with Bernie Williams…because I know this stuff, cold. If Cain knew his founding documents, he wouldn’t have finished that sentence. You can spin and spin all you like. That incident tipped us off that Cain was a fraud, and you made excuses…and not very convincing ones at that.
Game, set, match.